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When you think of business tycoons in American history, certain names rush to mind: Ford, Rockefeller, Carnegie, J.P. Morgan.
You can add Steve Jobs to that list.
Perhaps no other modern-day entrepreneur has had such a lasting impact as Jobs on American culture. His products, his innovations, have transformed the entire world.
Chances are, you own something that was either produced or inspired by Jobs' company, Apple. The concept for your music player, computer, even your phone probably originated on Jobs' drawing board.
If Bill Gates brought a computer into every home in the world, Steve Jobs made that computer smaller, cooler, and easier to use.
Jobs died this week at the all-too young age of 56. He had been battling cancer for years and while speculation had persisted that the electronics genius was sick, just how much so remained a mystery. Then, this past summer, Jobs stepped down from his head position at Apple, marking the end to his run and signaling that his health had taken a turn for the worse. Less than three months later, Jobs had passed away.
There are few people who could evoke the kind of response Jobs did upon his passing. World leaders seemed ready to trip over one another to laud the greatness of Jobs and pay tribute to his innovations. Even Bill Gates, his competitor and fellow business icon, called it an “honor” to know Jobs.
At times over the past decade, Apple enthusiasts have taken on an almost cult feel. People would flock to buy the newest Apple product the way music fanatics used to wait hours outside local record stores for a new release. Their devotion was so complete, it resulted in a sort of backlash against the people and the company.
Yet, whether you were a loyal follower of Jobs, or a detractor, no one could have anything but respect for what he created. The world is still adapting to the many applications of his newest innovation, the iPad, which seems destined to once again revolutionize an industry.
It will be interesting to see where Apple goes from here. Jobs had made a reputation as a man constantly on the cutting edge of new ideas, wowing the world every few years with an exciting invention and re-imagining. It would stand to reason that, in his absence, Apple would hold true to that mindset, yet can it continue without its leader?
That's for the future. What's true in the present is that the world lost someone who left a mark that will be felt for years to come.
When future generations think of great men of industry, Jobs' name will be on top of that list.